Vivian W W Yam - Class of '80
Ms. Vivian W W Yam, an ex-DGS girl, was elected to be a Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences ("CAS") in 2001 and is the youngest-ever elected member to this Academy. Ms. Winnie Kong and Ms. Lisa Lau interviewed Ms. Yam on 22nd January, 2001. The following is an account of what they discussed.
Years in DGS and memorable experience at school
Vivian studied in Christ Church as a kindergarten student, which was followed by 13 years of education at DGS. So basically Vivian grew up at DGS. Similar to almost all DGS girls, she made a lot of good friends at school, like Winnie Yue, Katie Tam, May Tsui and Grace Ng, Annabell Lee and Judy Wai and although they are in different professions and some of them live in other parts of the world, Vivian has kept in close touch with most of them after leaving school. Vivian and her 1980 Form V classmates have frequent gatherings and usually hold a class reunion every few years. The latest was the 20 years reunion held in the Fringe Club recently.
When asked about the memorable experience at school, Vivian could recall only the good and happy moments and the challenges that she faced in various badminton competitions. Vivian was the chairperson of the DGS Badminton Club and the captain of the Badminton Team, representing school to win many tournaments. She was also a member of the Table Tennis Club.
Dr. Symons and teachers at school
Vivian has vivid memories of Dr. Symons, the then headmistress, and some of her teachers. She remains extremely thankful to Dr. Symons for her kindness and good guidance and for being a firm but caring headmistress, a feeling shared by countless DGS girls. She would never forget the motto "Daily Giving Service", as well as the dedication and responsibility of Dr. Symons as a true educator. The teachers that she remembers most are Ms. Ching, her primary one class teacher, Miss Ma, who taught her Chinese and whom she regarded as "very nice", Mrs. Kent, who taught her General Studies and with whom she learned a lot, Mrs. Kan, an inspiring teacher who taught her Biology well and was extremely kind to her fellow students, Mrs. Yau who was her caring neighbour and kindly drove her to school all through her years at DGS, and lastly Ms. Williams, the PE teacher and whom she remembers to be fierce and tough but effective in her training. It is difficult for anyone to forget running around the open field wearing only underwear as penalty for not remembering to bring the PE uniforms for the lessons!
Things learned at school
Vivian treasured every bit of her time spent at DGS, a place not only providing good academic knowledge but also encouraging girls to develop other areas of interests and achievements, including athletics, languages, art and music. Vivian's years at DGS helped her to develop the skills in communication and organization and to establish a good sense of responsibilities; these gave Vivian the confidence to master and resolve any issues encountered in life, a skill of tremendous value.
The educational path, the career and the achievements
After finishing Form Seven at DGS, Vivian moved into the university life at the University of Hong Kong (the "University"). She graduated with First Class Honors and obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree majoring in Chemistry in 1985. After obtaining her Ph. D. Degree in Inorganic Chemistry in the University in 1988, she joined City Polytechnic of Hong Kong (now known as City University) lecturing in Chemistry. In 1990, she rejoined the University and has been a Chair Professor in Chemistry since 1999.
During the years of studying and lecturing, Vivian received numerous prizes, awards and scholarships. These include the Outstanding Researcher Award and the Croucher Senior Research Fellowship given by the University and the Croucher Foundation in 1999 and 2000 respectively. As previously mentioned, Vivian was elected to be a Member of CAS (note) in 2001.
Note: CAS was founded on 1st November, 1949 on the basis of the former Central Academy of Sciences, Beijing Academy of Sciences and Yan'an Academy of Natural Sciences. It is the highest academic institution and comprehensive research centre in natural sciences in the PRC. CAS provides expert advice, when asked, to the State Council and its ministries, commissions, and agencies. Its specialized research institutes also did work for the military research and development program. The applied research and development work of CAS involves information, integration of optics, mechanics and electronics, materials, energy resources, biotechnology, chemical engineering, space technology and remote sensing technology. Such work has made contributions to the research and development of computers, atomic energy, lasers, the atomic and hydrogen bombs and "one star", a space satellite.
The membership of CAS includes the PRC's most senior and best-known scientists. Under CAS there are 5 academic divisions, 123 institutes, more than 500 S&T enterprises, and more than 20 supporting units including 3 universities, 2 printing houses, 5 R&D centers for scientific instruments and 5 documentation and information centers. Based on Vivian's understanding, the CAS Chemistry division has less than 80 members and 5 of them are from Hong Kong, with average age of these members being over 60.
Vivian is now married with two young daughters, who are now close to 3 and 5 years old. With her frequent traveling as visiting professor in universities and invited speaker in various international conferences, and the long hours that she has to spend in research and lecture work, she can allocate only limited hours for the family. Although she enjoys her work very much and treats her office like home, Vivian treasures a lot the time that she is able to spend with her husband and two lovely daughters. While she is in Hong Kong, Sunday is strictly reserved for the family.
When asked what advice she can give to the girls at DGS, Vivian felt they should treasure their time of studying at DGS, learn as much as possible there, develop different areas of interests, be dedicated to their work and be confident and p
repared to face any problems encountered in life..